Football has allowed the Gómez’s to visit and experience some amazing places domestically and internationally; in the process, we have met some wonderful people. We are beyond grateful to football for those opportunities. In this particular occasion, we visited yet another historical place packed with pleasant folks. After the initial remote interactions with the Louisville City FC staff, we were confident that we would finally encounter hospitality, honesty, genuineness, openness, and the appropriate development setup for Jogo…and sure enough, Louisville did not disappoint.
My fathers’s favorite sport was not football; it was boxing. I became a boxing fan at an early age mostly because of him but also because my home country produces its share of good boxers. I remember watching boxing every Saturday night with my father; he’d ask me trivia questions about the sport so I became very knowledgeable at a young age. All that said, when the trip to Louisville materialized, the last thing that crossed my mind was Muhammad Ali’s hometown. However, as soon as we landed in the Louisville Muhammad Ali airport, I felt I had gone full circle in a small (but very intimate) part of my life. My dad would have been happy.
From the moment we received confirmation of the trip until the last handshake; we felt welcome; the hospitality was incredible. It’s not often parents get an opportunity to talk openly to the head coach (especially one whom we admire) and much less his staff (the assistant coach and the goalkeeper coach). They made us feel welcome…special. We were not just a number. Is this how it’s supposed to be? Thank you. In addition to the coaching staff (and in no chronological order), in our first trip, we met the vice president of operations, the club president, the academy director, the public relations team, the chaplain (and his wife), players (Sean, apologies since we were in a rush), etc. Everyone was so genuinely kind and welcoming. Words can’t suffice. They say Texans are famous for their southern hospitality…don’t know, what we experienced that weekend outdoes anything we have witnessed before. We know we landed at the right place.
Are you kidding me? A 65 million dollar facility with a capacity of up to 14k fans. It’s not every day that a USL team has its own brand new football dedicated stadium. Being part of the inception of a project magnifies the satisfaction and was a factor in our decision. The attention to detail is incredible; from the shape of the stadium to the locker room soccer tennis area. It’s well thought-out. It’s also not surprising that the folks who made us feel welcome are the same folks behind this magnificent design. The two main supporter groups will be ecstatic. The tifos and smoke bombs setup; everything is built with a purpose. The Lynn Family stadium will be inaugurated by Louisville City FC on April 11th. We are looking forward to an environment packed with supporting fans on our third visit; we have never experienced an environment like that in North Texas.
Having the flexibility to accompany the team to pre-season was the cherry on the cake. Jogo not only had a chance to interact, train and play with the team in Louisville but also traveled with them to Florida to further validate any potential on-the-field development uncertainties. While there, he played a scrimmage against a very talented DC United side and defended some very good players. Get well soon Paul. We need you back on the USMNT.
In two quick pragmatic trips with packed agendas, we achieved everything we wanted except perhaps more sight-seeing. We’ll be back, there’s no doubt about that. We did manage to use at least one of the famous beautiful bridges that go across the Ohio River (to cross to Indiana to go to Target).
Is this how cold it’s supposed to get? Texas winter wind surpasses this any day. We experienced beautiful days for football with (guess what?) no wind and we loved it. Incidentally, the colder weather and the quicker speed of play of the team helped Jogo with what he embarked on right after Louisville City FC pre-season.
In an already gloomy afternoon (Kobe’s news), the time came to say goodbye. It had to be quick because Jogo needed to return to “his business” and the quick adieu helped. Mom was sad (extremely sad). Everything we have seen far exceeds our expectations; we know deep in our hearts this is where he belongs. Yet as we head back to the airport, a natural sudden nostalgic feeling rushes in. The sadness is exponentially exacerbated by the gloomy cold Sunday night. Feelings are strange and we can’t explain them sometimes; for now, we must manage them. There is no doubt this is the next logical progression in his career. We know Jogo will embrace it with open arms because he is surrounded by an excellent team. Seize the day son. It is time to continue shining.